Ask your friends to give you an example of this crazy menacing sound and they're likely to name Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. Or maybe they'll refer you to Jimi Hendrix, The Yardbirds, or even Davie Allan & The Arrows, who recorded tons of fuzzy guitar instrumentals for biker movie soundtracks. Given the rock and roll reputation of the fuzztone sound, those are all pretty understandable responses.
I'm here today, though, to share with you some fine examples of country music fuzz. While that might sound counter-intuitive it actually makes perfect sense given the fact that the fuzztone sound was created by the legendary Nashville session picker Grady Martin. Martin's immense talent was used to great effect on thousands of recordings, probably none of which were more influential than the rock and roll sides he cut with Johnny Burnette Trio in Nashville in 1956. On songs like Honey Hush and Train Kept A Rollin' (MP3), record buyers heard Martin cut loose with astonishing levels of distortion that hinted at the fuzztone sound he accidentally created a few short years later.
It happened in the summer of 1960, when Grady was hired to work on a Marty Robbins recording session in Nashville. While recording the tune Don't Worry, a malfunctioning channel on the mixing board caused Martin's six string bass to be recorded with an insane amount of distortion, a sound that would come to be called fuzztone. Despite the jarring sound, the record was released as it was originally recorded, fuzztone and all, which turned out to be a successful gamble. The record bolted to the #1 position on the Billboard country charts and #3 on the pop charts. With results like that, it's really no surprise that other country artists soon started experimenting with fuzztone sounds on their own records.